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From the Everything Awesome About… series

An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans.

In the wake of Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts! (2019), Lowery spins out likewise frothy arrays of facts and observations about sharks, whales, giant squid, and smaller but no less extreme (or at least extremely interesting) sea life.

He provides plenty of value-added features, from overviews of oceanic zones and environments to jokes, drawing instructions, and portrait galleries suitable for copying or review. While not one to pass up any opportunity to, for instance, characterize ambergris as “whale vomit perfume” or the clownfish’s protective coating as “snot armor,” he also systematically introduces members of each of the eight orders of sharks, devotes most of a page to the shark’s electroreceptive ampullae of Lorenzini, and even sheds light on the unobvious differences between jellyfish and the Portuguese man-of-war or the reason why the blue octopus is said to have “arms” rather than “tentacles.” He also argues persuasively that sharks have gotten a bad rap (claiming that more people are killed each year by…vending machines) and closes with pleas to be concerned about plastic waste, to get involved in conservation efforts, and (cannily) to get out and explore our planet because (quoting Jacques-Yves Cousteau) “People protect what they love.” Human figures, some with brown skin, pop up occasionally to comment in the saturated color illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 45% of actual size.)

An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans. (bibliography, list of organizations) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35973-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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1001 BEES

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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An excellent choice for nature-loving elementary readers.

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Footprints show the impact of human actions on Earth in this eco-friendly nonfiction picture book.

Swanson’s simple text, accompanied by clear, detailed photography, highlights the many different sizes and shapes of footprints. A photo of an elephant’s large prints shows a child leaping from one to the next alongside a photograph of the animals walking. Small footprints of insects and other animals are shown before the work showcases a diverse array of human footwear. Footprints “capture adventures at the greatest heights,” the book notes, showing paths on mountains and on the moon. The text moves on to metaphorical footprints, suggesting that young activists follow in the steps of historical changemakers, then briefly addresses digital and carbon footprints, further explained in notes at the back. Swanson’s accessible text is tailored to emergent readers, with few pages featuring more than one sentence; most passages stretch over multiple pages. The metaphorical footprints are likely to require adult discussion about what it means to leave behind traces of one’s actions. The selection of uncredited photos is excellent, with images from history and nature that are well suited to each idea; Rosa Parks and Greta Thunberg are among the changemakers featured. The text doesn’t name many of them, though, which will leave readers who don’t recognize them at a loss.

An excellent choice for nature-loving elementary readers.

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4788-7603-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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